April 5th, 2010

Wounded Warriors Prepare for Warrior Games with USAMU

USAMUThis past week (March 29 – April 1), wounded soldiers practiced marksmanship at Fort Benning (GA) under the tutelage of USAMU instructors. The training focused on Air Rifle and Air Pistol skills in preparation for the inaugural Warrior Games, to be held May 10-14 at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. The Warrior Games provide a venue where wounded, ill, and injured service-members from all branches can compete in Paralympic sports. The goal of the Warrior Games is to inspire recovery and promote opportunities for growth and achievement among wounded troops.

The Fort Benning Training Camp gave injured soldiers a chance to break away from their sometimes grueling rehabilitation schedules, and look forward to something beyond another doctor’s appointment. “It’s so easy to isolate yourself, then think that nobody understands,” said Staff Sgt. Rachelle Renaud, who required a double lumbar fushion on her spine after suffering back injuries during two Iraq deployments. “The Warrior Games have inspired me — I’m motivated to go out and go exercise, go to the gym — go do something to prepare.”

“The challenge to compete with these other soldiers who have gone through similar experiences… is very exciting,” said Capt. Juan Guerrero. Severely injured in both legs from an explosive projectile while on a patrol south of Baghdad in 2007, Guerrero offers some important advice: “They may think they aren’t going to be able to do it, but until they try it, they won’t know for sure. One of the things as a soldier is that you have to try it first. If you try it and succeed, then you go on from there. If you try and you fail, you try again. It’s a long process, but eventually, you’ll get to the point where you’ll be able to do stuff you didn’t think you could do, just like I did.”

As the week progressed, enthusiasm to get on with the Games was evident. There was no mention of treatments or appointments, just encouragement and excitement. At a practice match, the wounded competitors rooted for each other. With the Warrior Games a month away, the goal of the Games seems to be working. “What we have to do with our service-members is inspire them to reach for and achieve a rich and productive future, to defeat their illness or injury, whatever lies in their way, to maximize their abilities and know that they can have a rich and fulfilling life…” said Brig. Gen. Gary Cheek, commander, U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command.

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